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Wool MP3 CD – Unabridged, April 8, 2014
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About the Author
- Publisher : Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (April 8, 2014)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1491512644
- ISBN-13 : 978-1491512647
- Item Weight : 3.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 5.5 x 0.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,749,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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- Poor dialogue for many characters... sometimes cringe worthy.
- I needed a strong suspension of disbelief. Here are a few examples...
- Its a totalitarian state, where the 'mayor' can send someone to their death when desired. However this 'mayor' doesn't know what is happening on many of the 144 floors, doesn't understand how the information technology or 'IT' people collect and use data on all the citizens, doesn't understand how the 'machines' way down in the mechanics area keeps everyone alive with the water and power and all that. Knowledge is power. And this 'mayor' did little more than sign birth certificates. Seemed like some token leader that didn't fit the vibe of the book at all.
- The sheriff is the law, and again in my mind just didn't fit. In this type of totalitarian state he would be integrated into IT, monitoring and controlling the thoughts of the inhabitants... with a well armed militia ready to stamp out dissent at a moments notice. Instead we get a guy and his aged deputy who know nothing about 'IT' or much of the rest of this silo... Just seemed incredibly hokey.
- They have an apprentice system for career fields, called 'shadows' that spend their youth learning their trade from the elders. Mechanics, porters, doctors... whatever. Then the sheriff needs to be replaced and they say they don't need a shadow. Eh.. just screw it and learn on the fly. Its only the law after all...
- They live in what is basically an underground sky scraper. They have foundries and machine shops and can fix whatever problems have arise... and have for many, many years. But they cannot install an elevator? They have one set of stairs going up and down... What happens when they have an earthquake? Or the stairs collapse due to heavy use? Where is the set of stairs for the porters to go up and down to deliver goods? Why not install a service elevator?? They have all these techno widgets and computers... but cannot install something that was invented in the 19th century? What??
All these things just kept echoing in my mind as I plodded through the book. I went from reading 30 pages at a time, to 15, to two... and ended up just skimming through the last third. Not very well thought out and nowhere near the quality of something like GRR Martin. I read that it was an indie book. I can see why. I am very surprised that it has done as well as it has.
Wool: Omnibus Edition is a collection of his first five novellas in the Wool series. The stories are set in a post-apocalyptic future in which the earth’s air has become toxic and the last survivors are forced to live underground in an immense silo with over 130 levels. How the world came to ruin is lost to history. But people know that talking about going outside is punished by being forced to go outside: troublemakers are sentenced to use wool pads to clean the lenses of the silo’s exterior cameras before succumbing to the noxious atmosphere.
There’s as much mystery as science fiction in the first few novellas. Aside from the big question—what caused the apocalypse?—Howey builds his world piece by piece in an investigative format that takes the reader along on a hunt for the truth. Why do people condemned to die still fulfill the ritual of cleaning the cameras? What caused the dimly remembered uprisings in the silo? Who’s keeping all these secrets? Are they right to do so? And why isn’t there a freaking elevator? There are murders to solve too, and while the action is slow-paced at first, Howey turns out to be as ruthless with his characters as George R. R. Martin.
All this—plus heaps of strong writing—would be enough to make me like Wool on its own. But the Omnibus Edition also features beautiful illustrations, many of which are animated. (Even the cover on Amazon has motion to it.) At first, I found the kinetic bits distracting, but I came to enjoy them as the stories developed.
None of this is to say Wool is perfect. I thought the third novella spent too much time rehashing a mystery that had already been solved in the first. And now and then Howey’s descriptions get a touch granular for my tastes. But I’ve never read a flawless “traditionally” published book either, and Wool is better than most.
Because good writing is good writing, no matter who puts it out.
Top reviews from other countries
The world has gone to crap. The air is toxic. Wool opens in an underground silo, all 140 odd floors, self-sufficient, with the sheriff, asking the mayor to let him clean. Cleaning isn’t such a good thing for a man to ask to do. It involves going outside the silo in a crap suit to clean the many lens that offer the occupants of the silo a clear view of the crap going on in the outside world. The suit is fitted with woolen pads for the cleaning, but is deliberately faulty, like something you’d buy at Target or Primark, so it falls apart and the cleaner dies.
Now I found the beginning confusing, not quite understanding what Holsten’s - the sheriff looking to clean - problem was. It had been three years since he’s lost his wife to this cleaning bug, her dead decomposing body, visible in the screen on the wall by the cafeteria. And when he went out into the toxic world outside the silo, I expected the story to continue outside the silo. And when it didn’t I had to mourn Holsten, and learn to like another character, the mayor, but she also died. Murdered she was.
Can you see my confusion? Don’t worry, as I’m sort of thick, and slow at picking up on stuff like plot. This story sorts itself out and the pace and the intrigue kick on.
Because in Juliet, the author offers a grand character we can cheer for. She is a mechanical genius living in the bowels of the silo, but due to her assistance with an earlier murder her talents are recognized and rewarded. Juliet is offered the Sheriff’s position, and unearths’ the clues Holsten’s wife had discovered, and slowly we all begin to learn through Juliet, the secret behind the silo and the world outside.
Through the eyes of several characters, we learn about life in the Silo, an underground bunker where people have lived for generations because the outside world is too toxic. In this closed system, there are rules that must be followed, the most important being to not question the way of things or wonder about the outside world. Order must be maintained for everything to function optimally. If you break this rule, you’re sentenced to Clean, meaning being suited up and sent outside to clean the cameras being used to monitor what’s happening up top. No one survives a Cleaning.
From the get-go, I was questioning the way things were. I have a tendency to question rules and authority, and I want to know the whys and hows behind everything; I would not have done well in the Silo, that’s for sure. What I loved was that I kept assuming what would happen next…only for Howey to subvert my expectations. There were a lot of “wait, what?” moments, particularly in the first half of the book.
Once I hit the midway point, the surprises stopped in some ways. By that point, I’d figured out the world, and the biggest surprise (for me) had been revealed. This was when the plot and tension really ramped up, and when I started to feel resentful towards anything that kept me from listening on. There were moments when I definitely thought all hope was lost, and I was amazed at how characters managed to find a way forward.
In some ways, this book made me think of The Martian. The suspense combined with technical and operational details kept me intellectually engaged, while the more human details had me emotionally invested in these characters. I love reading about human ingenuity and how people find a way to survive in the worst situations, and Juliet especially was a great character, both within her head and through the eyes of others.
Like any good dystopian story, Wool exposed social structures and political power dynamics that may have started with the best of intentions but then became warped over time. It showed how ideas and discontent can spread, and even explicitly called this a disease.
The ending was very satisfying, but it was definitely not the end of the road. A lot of questions were answered, so many more were introduced, and I’m looking forward to first going back in time with Shift before continuing where things left off with Dust.
Comparisons with The Hunger Games are apt, if a bit flat. This is as far from the underlying corpolence of that society as I can imagine.
Hugh Howley joins my list of greats, with: Banks, Robinson, Tchaikovsky, Herbert......
I struggled to finish it, and am not bothering to read the sequels. Cannot understand why it is so highly rated here in Amazon.
Howey has created a very believable post-apocalyptic society, confined in the underground and (apparently) self-sufficient Silo. It's a world designed to continue preserving life in perpetuity, and to that end Howey has considered every aspect - the farms, the factories, the political and social structure - and the power supply. But that's the thing that bothers me.
The silo has one generator. Just one. Oh, there's a backup to provide emergency power only, but the power needed for all normal functions comes from just one generator. Which means that any down time on that generator causes most of the silo to shut down. No power to the factories, no lights for the farms, everybody living in semi-darkness. Which means that the generator can't be stopped for regular, routine maintenance - and consequently the mechanics who look after it are faced with the possibility of a disastrous breakdown.
Howey uses this scenario to good effect in his plot, but it was ruined for me by the fact that it's such a ridiculous system. Nobody with a modicum of mechanical knowledge, or basic common sense for that matter, would design something without provision for proper maintenance. Any similar environment in the real world - such as an ocean going ship - has power requirements met by multiple generators, and it is therefore possible to take at least one of them out without interrupting regular power supplies.
Did Howey not think of this? Or did he deliberately design the silo to serve his plot? Either way, it spoilt the whole novel for me.
You might well think I'm making too much of a small point - after all, a lot of people have enjoyed the book in spite of this flaw, and many probably wouldn't even notice it. And, to give credit where it's due, the rest of the book hits all the right notes. Characters are well developed, the plot is complex but believable, word-flow is smooth and nicely paced throughout. I did think that the end felt a bit rushed - I think more could have been done with Bernard's fall from grace - but I could have overlooked that. Yet despite all the good points, I found it hard going. The story never really engaged me, and the only reason I could see was this issue of the generator.
Once the realism of a scenario has been undermined, it's hard to regain it. As I said, sometimes it's the little things.